Information, Commitment, and Intra-War Bargaining: The Effect of Governmental Constraints on Civil War Duration

Authors


  • Author’s notes: The author would like to thank Brian Lai, Emily Beaulieu, Wonbin Cho, Daniel Morey, Geoffrey Wallace, members of the UK International Relations Reading Group, and the editor and anonymous reviewers of ISQ for their helpful advice on previous versions of this paper. The data used in this article are available on the ISA data archive at http://www.isanet.org/data_archive.html and at http://www.uky.edu/~clthyn2/research.htm.

Abstract

Thyne, Clayton L. (2012) Information, Commitment, and Intra-War Bargaining: The Effect of Governmental Constraints on Civil War Duration. International Studies Quarterly, doi: 10.1111/j.1468-2478.2012.00719.x
© 2012 International Studies Association

This article considers how governmental variations affect the duration of civil conflicts. Recent work suggests that war termination is likely when competing actors gain information about the power balance and are able to credibly commit to war-ending agreements. I focus on how the strength and stability of executives impact these factors. Regarding information, power consolidation within the government reduces the number of people who must agree on a settlement, which should shorten civil conflicts. Stable leadership should likewise shorten conflicts by making it harder for potential spoilers to derail war-ending agreements, helping minimize credibility problems. This argument is tested by examining how variations in institutional design (executive constitutional and legislative power), political strength (ideological fragmentation and polarization), and stability (leadership tenure) affect the duration of civil conflicts from 1946 to 2004. The results suggest that powerful and stable executives are indeed well equipped to end civil conflicts.

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